Getting Into the Zone When Working from Home

Mon Sep 25 2017 Michael McQueen

We all know the feeling of being in a rut when motivation eludes us and the gravity of inertia feels too great to shrug off. There’s a pile of work to do but you can’t seem to summon the energy or will to get off go.

With more of us in freelance roles or working from home for a day or two per week, being able to get into the zone or break the rut cycle is critical when you don’t have the inbuilt accountability and structure of an office environment.

Here are eight simple and effective ways to getting moving when you feel stuck, listless or overwhelmed:


1. Accomplish the insignificant. Believe it or not, research has shown that doing something as insignificant as making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity. Starting your day with a small but positive activity starts a chain reaction that helps you make other good choices throughout the day.

2. Have a shower. While this may not always be a practical solution, renowned neuroscientist Alice Flaherty argues that having a shower releases the creativity-enhancing chemical dopamine in our brains. To this point, West Wing writer Aaron Sorkin is famous for taking up to eight showers per day to help overcome writer’s block.

3. Get physical. Exercise not only oxygenates our blood but it also releases endorphins, which can have a remarkably positive effect on our mood when we’re feeling sluggish. Never forget that motion precedes emotion. The key is to not waste time trying to shift your mental state without shifting your physical state. If in doubt, get moving.

4. Look beyond yourself. Introspection is the cousin of inertia, so the best way to get out of a mental funk is to shift the focus from yourself onto someone else. Send an encouraging text message, or simply pick up the phone and tell that special someone you value them. Typically, you’ll feel positive effects thanks to your efforts to show love and care to others. There is a reason why it is better to give than receive.

5. Change your environment. This could be as simple as varying your schedule or rearranging the furniture. Other times it can involve getting out into nature in order to clear your head and look beyond present circumstances. When I am writing or in creative mode, I find that I need to start my day working somewhere enjoyable and inspiring like a local café and then heading back to my home office to keep going once i'm in a groove.

6. Make a ‘done list’. While some Type-A personalities flourish on long to-do lists, the rest of the population can find that beginning the day with a formidable task schedule is the very thing that prevents them from getting started in the first place. Try cheating a little by kicking off your day by writing a ‘done’ list before you turn your attention to your to-do list. Not only does a list of completed tasks look impressive on paper, but it also helps build a sense of progress and achievement.

7. Pump up the jam. Music can be incredibly motivating — there is a good reason why gyms play tunes of a certain genre and tempo. Try putting together a playlist of tunes that gets your blood pumping and lifts your spirits.

8. Don’t beat yourself up. When you’re in a funk, the worst thing you can do is feel guilty about it. Cut yourself some slack; we’ve all been there. Embrace the rut so that once you emerge, you might be able to lend a helping hand to the next person you come across who is in their own.

So next time you find yourself struggling to get off go and into the zone while working at home, which one of these 10 tips might help you break the shackles of inertia? While working from home has massive benefits, it can be tough at times. With any luck, these ideas might help you get into a groove, be productive and enjoy the 'flow state' of productivity.


Michael McQueen is a trends forecaster, business strategist and award-winning conference speaker.

He features regularly as a commentator on TV and radio and has written 5 bestselling books including his latest release "Momentum: How to Build it, Keep it, or Get it Back."

To see Michael speaking live, click here and for more information on Michael's speaking topics,